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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Shane Simpson, RB, Virginia

Shane Simpson is a shifty speedster at RB who transferred to Virginia from Towson for the 2020 season. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.

Talk about your experience as a student. What is your major/minor? Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
Coming out of high school, I went to Towson University where I obtained my degree in Sports Management, and I also had a double minor in Psychology and Business. I transferred to Virginia during the summer of 2020 in order to pursue a graduate degree at the Curry School of Higher Education and to display my talent on the football field.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
My best quality on the field is my leadership. I was a 2-time captain at Towson and that speaks volumes of the level of respect that I had among my peers.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
I’m a competitive and versatile back that can be used in the backfield as a runner, lined up in the slot as a receiver or be a return specialist. I’m familiar with many different schemes whether it be power, spread or NFL pro styles. I feel like I’m best in a zone scheme. Whether as a receiver or runner, I see myself being used in space where I have to make the first guy miss and get down the field. In the NFL, I’d probably be used as more of a 3rd down change of pace back and as a return specialist.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
While at Towson, the best player that I faced was DB Nasir Adderley who played for Delaware and is currently playing for the LA Chargers. We knew each other from back in our high school days being PA kids. He’s a very competitive player.

Here at Virginia, I’m obviously playing some of the best talent in the country with players like LB Chazz Surratt from UNC and DL Carlos Basham from Wake Forest.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
Tom Flacco was my quarterback while at Towson. He was a great leader that could make plays either as a runner or a thrower. Robert Heyward was also a team captain at Towson that played LB. He’s a real smart player who’s currently playing professionally overseas.

Charles Snowden has been a great teammate here at Virginia. He’s a great leader and captain on the field, and even a better person off the field. As a 6’7” 240 pound LB, he was a challenge to go up against in practice. I can’t wait to see what he does in the pros.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
I’ve been through a lot of adversity in my life. One of the hardest moments that I had to overcome is when two of my best friends died in high school. They weren’t on the football team, but they were huge supporters that always took time for me and were there when I played. I have their initials tattooed on my chest to represent that they are close to my heart.

Since 2019, there have been some struggles as a football player. I went down with a knee injury at the beginning of that season. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I believe that God has a purpose for my life and that I needed to experience that moment and understand that you only get so many chances in life. Through a lot of hard work in rehab, I was able to recover earlier than expected, and was cleared by doctors at 8 ½ months. I was looking forward to finishing out my career at Towson and showing pro scouts that I was healthy when the pandemic hit the Spring of 2020.

The CAA cancelled the 2020 season in July, and I wanted to improve my draft stock. I was named to the Senior Bowl watch list and knew that scouts wanted to see more.  I entered the transfer portal late but still had several offers. Virginia seemed like a good fit, so I transferred there. It took a while to get my feet wet there, but I turned into a solid contributor on offense and special teams. I ended up starting the last 5 games. After my performance at Virginia, I was selected to attend the College Gridiron Showcase in Fortworth, Texas. This draft process is the next challenge that I have to face, and I know that I’ll get through it and have my opportunity in the NFL very soon.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
Track. It was my 2nd favorite sport in high school next to football. I also played 3 years of varsity basketball. I was really good as a track runner. My personal bests include 10.67 seconds in the 100m and 22 seconds in the 200m. I placed 3rd in the state of Pennsylvania in the 100m.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I am most proud of overcoming my injuries and being named All-American afterwards. Outside of football my biggest achievement is definitely getting my degree. I’m the first male in my family to graduate from college. Some of my accolades include being named CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year and a Jerry Rice Award finalist in 2016. I was named a 2016 HERO Sports First Team Freshman All-American. I was a 2-time All-CAA First Team player and was also named to conference teams as a return specialist. I was also named FCS All-American in 2018.

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
This year for Virginia, I had a 71 yard touchdown reception against North Carolina in the first quarter. That was the longest of my career. It was also a huge game because North Carolina was a highly ranked opponent. We were able to hold them off and win that game 44-41.

The play that sticks out from my days at Towson is my from our game against Maine in 2018. I had a 26 yard touchdown reception for a touchdown. It may not sound like much, but what made it special is that I had called the play. I told the coach that they were guarding me with a linebacker which is a huge mismatch. We executed the play to perfection. I got past my defender and Tom Flacco through a great ball for us to get the score.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
Being a Jersey Boy, I’ve been a Giants fan. One of the players that I’ve been compared to is Nyheim Hines who is utilized often in the passing game. One of the players that I try to emulate is LaDainian Tomlinson. He was an excellent player who was dominant in his era. I also model my game after LeSean McCoy who has good shiftiness and the ability to make people miss.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
Some of my favorite artists include Lil Durk and Rod Wave

What is your favorite comfort food?
You can’t go wrong with pizza. My favorite local restaurant is Adobo Latin Kitchen in Easton, PA.

Do you have a favorite movie, TV show or actor?
My favorite TV show is “Power”. My favorite movie is “Remember the Titans”. Denzel Washington is one of my favorite actors.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
If I’m not working out, I’m hanging out with my friends and family. I’ll occasionally play video games like Call of Duty: Warzone. One of my hobbies is that I like to collect shoes

Who or what motivates you the most?
My Family. Without them, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today nor made it this far. 


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